Everything You Need to Build a Winter Capsule Wardrobe That’s Both Chic and Warm

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A winter capsule wardrobe is a beautiful thing, especially when it’s carefully constructed from beautiful basics and simple staples you can rely on. But good design aside, the real benefit of a streamlined closet is that each piece can be mixed and matched with ease, leaving you with a multitude of outfits that can be thrown together in three minutes (or less). Which is definitely something to look forward to on a winter morning when the wind chill makes it feel like -4°F. Here are the only ten pieces you need to build out a chic and warm winter wardrobe to get you dressed and out the door ASAP on those chilly rushed mornings.

How to Build a Winter Capsule Wardrobe

The point of a capsule wardrobe is that is makes getting dressed easier for you. So feel free to adjust any of the items on this list to your needs. If you prefer a lightweight puffer over a wool peacoat, by all means make that swap. And just because neutrals like black, gray, beige and white are generally the easiest to mix and match, that doesn’t mean you can’t opt for bright colors or prints that pop instead if that’s more your style. Here are a few things to think about when deciding how to build out your capsule wardrobe:

What are your current go-to pieces?

If you already find yourself reaching for midi skirts and chunky turtlenecks four days a week, then that’s probably a great place to start when building out your capsule wardrobe. Conversely, consider what basics are currently missing from your closet and why. For instance, do you wear skirts over jeans because you don’t love the feel of denim on your skin or is it because all your old jeans just don’t fit quite right anymore?

What does your daily schedule actually entail?

Are you heading into the office for meetings with clients or to a lecture hall for classes? Are you running errands all over town or all over the house trying to keep up with your two-year-old? Stock your closet mostly with pieces that work for those occasions—sleek trousers and blazers for work, comfortable shoes for walking and warm leggings for days on the go—so you won’t run out of options by Wednesday.

What is your wardrobe missing?

Once you’ve established what you already own and love, it’s time to fill in the gaps. Replace those jeans that don’t fit quite right, invest in a true winter coat and update your shoe selection to include pairs that are both comfortable and ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

‘90s Minimalism Is the Perfect Winter Trend for Capsule Wardrobe Lovers

10 Pieces to Buy for a Winter Capsule Wardrobe

A woman wearing a chunky knit sweater over black leggings and carrying a white structured handbag.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

1. Oversize Sweaters

Consider a big, roomy sweater to be sleepwear you can wear in public. Because yes, oversize knits are that comfy. Toss one on over jeans, faux-leather leggings or even a sweaterdress when your mind says “sleep” but your schedule says “hustle.”

Shop similar styles: Abercrombie & Fitch Alpaca-Blend Sweater ($130; $91); Madewell Loretto Mockneck Sweater ($98; $88); Everlane Alpaca Oversized Turtleneck ($175); ASOS Curve Wool-Blend Sweater ($54); Free People Ottoman Slouchy Tunic Sweater ($168); Torrid Vegan Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater ($80); Quince Baby Alpaca-Wool Crew Sweater ($50)

A model wears a long black wool coat and matching white sweatsuit for a walk in Paris.
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2. A Wool Coat

Less bulky than a parka and more put together than a puffer, a wool coat is an outward projection of the chic outfit underneath (even if you’re too bundled to see it). Top it off with a cashmere beanie or beret and you won’t have to worry about your hair either. Simply opt for an unfussy color—think ivory, gray or black—and keep the silhouette streamlined so your outerwear can be as versatile as possible. And make sure it’s roomy enough to fit over even your chunkiest knit.

Shop similar styles: Theory Sculpted Wool Melton Coat ($895; $537); Ulla Popken Wool Blend Button-Front Coat ($259); Gentle Herd Wool Belted Wrap Coat ($228); Boden Long Belted Coat ($298); Elie Tahari Double Face Wool Wrap Coat ($440; $129); Reformation Baker Coat ($398); Remi x Revolve Brooks Waist Tie Coat ($150)

A woman wearing a white turtleneck under a navy blue cardigan sweater.
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3. Layering Turtlenecks

These tissue-thin, T-shirt-inspired tops can be layered under oversize pullovers, slim-fit cardigans, tailored blazers or even dresses to give you an extra boost of warmth and color. While we generally suggest opting for neutral hues when buying the items on this list, this is one piece that we find is just as versatile in bright hues, contrasting stipes or bold patterns as it is in black or white.

Shop similar styles: J.Crew Tissue Turtleneck Tee ($40); Uniqlo Heattech Ultra-Warm Turtleneck ($30); L.L.Bean Pima Cotton Turtleneck ($35); Splendid Classic Turtleneck ($60); Lands’ End Lightweight Turtleneck ($40); Beyond Yoga Foundations Turtleneck ($64)

A close up of black ankle boots with a block heel.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

4. Ankle Boots (with Weather Resistance)

If you rock only one pair of shoes all winter, make it ankle boots. This super versatile shoe goes with everything (straight-leg jeans, sweaterdresses, you name it), and if you stick to a block heel, it’s comfy enough to wear everywhere the day takes you. Opt for a neutral color like black or dark brown to ensure these booties fit in seamlessly with the clothing you already own, and we strongly advise investing in a style that is either weather-resistant or weather-proof. That way you won’t have to stress if Mother Nature throws a mid-afternoon curve ball your way.

Shop similar styles: Nordstrom Miller Water-Resistant Chelsea Boots ($100); La Canadienne Darling Waterproof Booties ($550; $385); Cole Haan Water-Resistant Greenwich Booties ($210); Nisolo Water-Resistant Dari Commuter Boots ($240; $192); Blondo Salome Waterproof Booties ($150; $100); Sam Edelman Waterproof Laguna Chelsea Boots ($170)

Eva Chen wearing brown leather pants and a coordinating light brown sweater with pointed shoes.
Kristin Sinclair/Getty Images

5. Faux-Leather Pants

Comfier and warmer than blue jeans, faux-leather pants are the perfect item to wear when you need to be out the door by 8 a.m. and won’t be home until after happy hour. Keep your eyes out for a straight cut that feels modern when worn with simple boots or white sneakers. You can also invest in some faux-leather leggings, which are easier to tuck into tall boots and are every bit as warm as their trouser cousins.

Shop similar styles: Good American Good Icon Faux-Leather Pants ($175); Spanx Faux-Leather Leggings ($98); Abercrombie & Fitch Faux-Leather ’90s Pants ($110; $88); H&M Plus High-Waist Faux-Leather Leggings ($30); Wilfred Melina Faux-Leather Pants ($148); Maeve Colette Faux-Leather Pants ($148); Eloquii Faux-Leather Flare Trousers ($100; $40)

A woman wearing a black puffer coat and black leggings on a walk in NYC.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

6. Matte Black Leggings

Even if you already own a pair of faux-leather leggings, it’s a good idea to also have a few pairs of matte black leggings for more casual looks. Fleece-lined pairs are great for slipping on under a long sweater and tall boots, while thinner leggings can be worn under dresses or even jeans for some bonus warmth while you’re out and about. Be sure to choose styles that go all the way down to your ankle to prevent any skin from showing, and opt for sleek minimalist designs over those with pockets or extra seams for a streamlined, leg-lengthening look.

Shop similar styles: Vuori Rib Studio Leggings ($89); Pari Passu Goldie Leggings ($78); Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Leggings ($78); Zella Live In High-Waist Leggings ($59); ALO Airlift Leggings ($128); Everlane Seamless Leggings ($58); Allbirds Natural Leggings ($98; $64)

A woman wearing a beige blanket scarf and brown plaid wool coat talks on the phone while walking in NYC
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

7. A Blanket Scarf

When your outfit feels like it needs a little something extra, whether it’s another layer or an additional accessory, throw on a blanket scarf. Not only will it dress up your wool coat, but it will also function as a chic wrap once you remove that top layer. You’d do best to avoid any scarf with sparkles, wild prints or colors that could clash with anything currently in your closet. The simpler the better.

Shop similar styles: Quince Mongolian Cashmere Wrap ($100); Acne Studios Valley Alpaca and Wool Blanket Scarf (580); Arctic Fox & Co. Stockholm Scarf ($54); Banana Republic Ambra Scarf ($100; $70); Free People Skye Stripe Fringe Scarf ($58); Anthropologie Cozy Fringe Scarf ($48); Everlane Cashmere Scarf ($140)

A woman wearing a cream and navy stripe sweater and dark wash skinny jeans.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

8. Dark-Wash Straight- or Skinny-Leg Denim

Dark jeans are dressy enough for many office settings, and the slim cut means they can be styled with almost every kind of shoe: Tuck them into knee-high boots, step into stilettos or pair them with combat boots. The options are endless.

Shop similar styles: Warp + Weft MXP High-Rise Skinny Jeans ($88); Good American Good Legs Skinny Jeans ($99); Old Navy OG Straight-Leg Jeans ($50); Mother Dazzler Straight-Leg Jeans ($248); Universal Standard Seine Skinny Jeans ($98); DL1961 Patti Straight-Leg Jeans ($199); Frame Le Crop Mini Boot Jeans ($225)

A woman wearing a black and white printed sweater dress and white combat boots in Milan.
Valentina Frugiuele/Getty Images

9. A Midi-or Knee-Length Sweater Dress

A cozy sweaterdress is a great mid-way point between dressy and comfy. And opting for a mid- or knee-length ensures you won’t feel lost under all that material. A shorter length also makes it easier to layer leggings or slim-fit pants underneath for bonus warmth without looking disproportionate. In fact, we highly suggest looking around at both chunkier knits in loose silhouettes as well as thinner styles that hug your curves to give you multiple options throughout the season.

Shop similar styles: Object Space-Dye Sweater Dress ($115); Eloquii Turtleneck Sweater Dress ($100; $27); Old Navy Mock Neck Sweater Dress ($70); Topshop Ribbed Funnel Neck Sweater Dress ($74); Reformation Henrietta Cashmere Dress ($278); Moon River Sweater Dress ($114); House of Harlow 1960 Mickey Sweater Dress ($218)

A woman wearing a plaid blazer over a white turtleneck and yellow trousers.
Streetstyleshooters/Getty Images

10. A Boyfriend Blazer

A power suit is always a good choice, but don’t be afraid to break up the set and let your blazer soak up the spotlight. Look for a slightly oversize, more relaxed silhouette to bring unstuffy sophistication to jeans and tees. A looser fit will also make it easier to layer sweaters underneath on extra chilly days. Much like the layering turtlenecks above, you can’t go wrong with black, white or beige, but we find plaid, tweed or even pinstripes to be just as versatile.

Shop similar styles: J.Crew Willa Blazer ($278); Madewell Larsen Double-Breasted Blazer ($188; $170); Everlane Oversize Blazer ($228); Pari Passu Debi Blazer ($348); Open Edit Blazer ($75); Lioness La Quinta Blazer ($71); Lane Bryant Scuba Blazer ($120)

Abby Hepworth


Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...
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